Budget Watch - What is the Cost of Florida's State and Local Government?

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Local Government
Florida’s has historically held the reputation of being a low-tax state, and that is largely true, especially at the state level. But taxes do not tell the whole story of what government costs its citizens. Taxes, especially those reported to the U.S. Census Bureau, exclude a large amount of revenue paid into government co ers by citizens. And that non-tax revenue accounts for a much higher portion of government total revenue in Florida than in the average state. A better measure of the cost of government is “own source revenue,” which Florida TaxWatch has been tracking in its How Florida Compares series. Own source revenue includes all direct revenue except for intergovernmental aid, revenue from government-owned utilities and other enterprises, and social insurance funds. It includes non-tax revenue such as fees, charges for services, special assessments, impact fees and net lottery revenue.

Budget Watch - Governor's FY2016-17 Recommended Budget

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Local Government
Governor Rick Scott’s budget recommendations for FY2016-17 total $79.252 billion—an increase of 1.1 percent ($855.1 million) over current year spending. General Revenue (GR) spending of $29.260 billion would be an increase of 1.4 percent over the current year. The budget proposes to fund 112,823 state employee positions, 864 fewer than currently exist.

Florida's Fiscal Strength Ranked 5th Best Nationally

/ Categories: Research, Taxes
A recent study by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center reviewed the fiscal health of the United States, breaking down each state individually for comparison across several standardized metrics. This Economic Commentary takes a look into some of these measurements, as well as examining other areas that affect Florida’s fiscal standing.

Thanksgiving and the Start of Holiday Shopping

/ Categories: Research, Taxes
Thanksgiving for most people invokes images of family gatherings, turkey, and football. But for retailers, it invokes images of large crowds and dollar signs. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are cash cows for businesses, particularly the retail and food industries. Those days are also important for Florida, as the state will collect a six percent sales and use tax on most of the retail goods purchased by shoppers and some grocery items, but will fail to collect lawfully owed taxes on many items purchased online during Cyber Monday.

Extending the Manufacturing Machinery & Equipment Sales Tax Exemption

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Economic Development
Given the diverse economic benefits provided by manufacturing, it is in the state’s best interest to continue to foster growth in this sector, and Florida lags behind compared to other Southern states. But while most Southern states provide broad tax exemptions for manufacturing equipment, Florida’s most important exemption to encourage capital investment in manufacturing will sunset in April 2017. The analysis in this report demonstrates that extending the exemption could provide a significant economic benefit to the state, and its manufacturing industry.

Reducing the Business Rent Tax

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Economic Development, Cost Savings
A reduction in the BRT would be broad-based, benefiting a large number of businesses. All businesses that rent commercial real estate pay the sales tax on those rents, regardless of their profitability or financial shape. Reducing the sales tax would help be a significant help to struggling companies. It would also help new businesses, who may find that other startup costs rule out purchasing real estate as an option.

2015 How Florida Compares: Taxes

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Taxpayer Guide
Florida has always had the reputation of being a low tax state. While this common perception is borne out by the newest available data contained in this report, the full picture is more complicated. This report provides detailed tax ranking information for Florida as compared to the rest of the nation.

Taxpayer Independence Day 2015

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Taxpayer Guide
Monday, April 20 Florida TaxWatch celebrates Florida Taxpayer Independence Day 2015: the day Floridians are finally earning money for themselves and not for the tax collector. This symbolic date assumes that every dollar earned since January 1 goes to pay federal, state, and local tax obligations. In 2015, for the average Florida household, paying its taxes takes 110 out of 365 days, or more than three and a half months.

Taxing Thanksgiving

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Local Government, Taxpayer Guide
Floridians have another reason to be thankful this holiday season: Florida is not one of the 14 states in the nation that tax groceries. While most food that Florida residents prepare themselves for a Thanksgiving feast is exempt, some of the items on dinner tables may be subject to the state's sales tax, ranging from six to 7.5 percent.

Budget Watch - Small Surplus Projected for Next Florida State Budget

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide
Florida lawmakers are expected to have a small budget surplus when they come to Tallahassee in 2015. State economists have predicted that funding a continuation budget next year will leave $336.2 million in available General Revenue funds. This is the fourth surplus in four years, despite being less than half of the surplus in fiscal year 2013-14.

Budget Watch - Budget Outlook Becoming Clearer

/ Categories: Research, Taxes, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide
Florida's latest cycle of revenue and expenditure estimating conferences show that Florida is still in a healthy post-recession recovery; however, the conferences have resulted in forecasts with slightly tempered expectations. Generally, projections of revenues were reduced from the previous estimates, even though the funds are expected to continue to grow year over year.

Budget Watch - Legislation Affecting Florida Revenues

All the bills passed by the 2014 Legislature have now been evaluated by the state's revenue estimators, resulting in a revenue reduction of more than $550 in the current fiscal year. Local revenues will be reduced by $41.5 million and $37.0 million. Despite the declining revenue estimates, the reduction still leaves $1.65 billion in general revenue reserves for the fiscal year, according to the July Budget Watch.
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